Small town Cotton Pickin’ Race goes international

This year, participants can say “hi, eh” and “aloha” to Canadian and Hawaiian guests at the Sept. 8 Cotton Pickin’ 5k in Somerville benefiting Fayette Cares.

The popular race has previously drawn participants from across the continental United States, but this year has a larger reach. All runners, walkers, strollers and wheelchair participants are welcome to the annual event that drew nearly 500 registrants last year.  Whether participating in the 5k, 1k Fun Run or as a spectator, the event offers fun and excitement for the whole family.

To get the blood pumping, the race day starts with a warm up to top 40 music and free samples of Java Monster and Monster Energy drinks compliments of Central Distributors Inc. After a scenic run or walk through historic Somerville, participants are treated to cold drinks and healthy snacks compliments of Costco.

All registrants receive an eye-catching moisture-wicking performance shirt. The 5k is followed by a 1k Fun Run with memorable 5k cotton bale awards and 1k participant medals presented at the Fayette County Cotton Festival.

“I was tickled to receive an email asking, ‘Can Canadians register?’” said Alexandra Wardlaw, Fayette Cares executive director.

Event participants and online donors from far and wide join in efforts to help Fayette Care aid families in need with shelter, food, clothing, safety and intervention services, life skills classes, and more.

Wardlaw sees the impact of these services firsthand at the agency, which served 1,600 people last year.

“Twice in one week I’ve had the wonderful experience of having clients refer to our team as ‘family,’” she recalled. “Both were struggling with serious crisis, one temporarily out of work due to a serious medical condition, the other homeless at the hands of abusive parents and a boyfriend.

“They told me they believed social service programs would be impersonal ‘warehouses’ for people in crisis,” she continued. “One client contemplated living in her car rather than coming for aid, but she simply couldn’t compromise the safety of her one-year-old child.”

The Fayette Cares team puts clients at ease by helping them understand their circumstances and resources, then working with them to prepare a plan for safety and stability.

“This empowers our clients to shed the feeling of being a helpless victim. They find strength to walk the tough journey hand in hand with those who care,” said Wardlaw.

Register for the Sept. 8 Cotton Pickin’ 5k Run/Walk and 1k Cotton Candy Fun Run or make a donation at, or by call 465-3802, Ext. 221.  Fayette Cares is a United Way Agency.